Irene continues to weaken

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 8:46 PM GMT on August 26, 2011

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Satellite data and measurements from the Hurricane Hunters show that Irene continues to weaken. A 1:32 pm EDT center fix by an Air Force Reserve aircraft found that Irene's eyewall is still gone, and the central pressure had risen to 951 mb from a low of 942 mb this morning. The winds measured in Irene near the surface support classifying it as a strong Category 1 hurricane or weak Category 2. Satellite imagery shows a distinctly lopsided appearance to Irene's cloud pattern, with not much heavy thunderstorm activity on the southwest side. This is due to moderate southwesterly wind shear of 10 - 20 knots. This shear is disrupting Irene's circulation and has cut off upper-level outflow along the south side of the hurricane. No eye is visible in satellite loops, but the storm's size is certainly impressive. Long range radar out of Wilmington, North Carolina, shows that the outermost spiral bands from Irene have moved ashore over North Carolina. Winds at buoy 41004 100 miles offshore from Charleston, SC increased to 47 mph, gusting to 60 mph at 3 pm EDT, with significant wave heights of 25 feet.


Figure 1. MODIS satellite image of Hurricane Irene taken at 11:50 am EDT Friday August 26, when Irene was a Category 2 hurricane with 105 mph winds. The eyewall collapsed several hours before this image was taken, and no eye is apparent. Image credit: a href=http://rapidfire.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/gallery/ NASA.


Figure 2. Distribution of Irene's wind field at 3:30 pm EDT Friday August 26, 2011, as observed by the Hurricane Hunters and buoys. The right front quadrant of the hurricane had about 90% of the storm's hurricane-force winds (yellow and warmer colors, bounded by the heavy black line between the "50" and "60" knot thin black lines.) Tropical storm-force winds (heavy black like bounding the light blue area) extended out 290 miles from the center of Irene. Image credit: NOAA/AOML/HRD.

Forecast for Irene
With its eyewall collapsed and just 18 more hours over water before landfall, Irene does not have time to build a new eyewall and intensify. The storm is too large to weaken quickly, and the best forecast is that Irene will be a strong Category 1 hurricane at landfall in North Carolina on Saturday. Based on the latest wind analysis from NOAA's Hurricane Research Division (Figure 2) and Irene's continued weakening trend, I predict that the 80-mile section of North Carolina coast to the right of where Irene makes landfall will receive sustained hurricane-force winds of 75 - 85 mph on Saturday at landfall; the 80-mile section of coast to the left will receive 55 - 75 mph winds. High wind shear of 30 knots will begin ripping into Irene Sunday morning when it is near Southern New Jersey, and more rapid weakening will occur. By the time Irene arrives on Long Island Sunday afternoon, it will probably have top sustained winds in the 65 - 75 mph range. However, since Irene is such a huge storm--tropical storm force winds extend out up to 290 miles from the center--it has set a massive amount of the ocean's surface in motion, which will cause a much larger storm surge than the winds would suggest. At 3:30 pm EDT this afternoon, a wind analysis from NOAA/HRD (Figure 2) indicated that the potential storm surge damage from Irene still rated a 5.0 on a scale of 0 to 6. This is equivalent to the storm surge a typical Category 4 hurricane would have. While this damage potential should steadily decline as Irene moves northwards and weakens, we can still expect a storm surge one full Saffir-Simpson Category higher than Irene's winds when it impacts the coast. Since tides are at their highest levels of the month this weekend due to the new moon, storm surge flooding will be at a maximum during the high tidal cycles that will occur at 8 pm Saturday night and 8 am Sunday morning. Wherever Irene happens to be at those times, the storm surge damage potential will be maximized. I continue to give a 20% chance that a 3 - 4 foot storm surge high enough to over-top the Manhattan flood walls and swamp the New York City subway system will occur on Sunday. The latest 11 am probabilistic storm surge map from NHC shows a 20 - 30% chance of a storm surge in excess of 3 feet in New York Harbor (Figure 4.) Keep in mind that these maps are calculated for normal tide level, and this weekend's high tides will be nearly 1 foot above normal.

Insurance company AIR-Worldwide is estimating that insured damages from Irene in the U.S. will be $1.5 - $6 billion. They estimate losses in the Caribbean at $0.5 - $1.1 billion from Irene.


Figure 3. Storm surge heights, in feet above normal tide level, which have a 20 percent chance of being exceeded during the next 3 days.  The graphic is based upon an ensemble of Sea, Lake, and Overland Surge from Hurricanes (SLOSH) model runs using the current National Hurricane Center (NHC) official hurricane advisory. The exceedance heights depend on the historical accuracy of NHCs forecasts of hurricane track, and wind speed, and an estimate of storm size. Image credit: NOAA.


Figure 4. Overall chance that storm surges will be greater than 3 feet above normal tide levels during the next 3 days.  The graphic is based upon an ensemble of Sea, Lake, and Overland Surge from Hurricanes (SLOSH) model runs using the current National Hurricane Center (NHC) official hurricane advisory.  Storm surge probabilities depend on the historical accuracy of NHCs forecasts of hurricane track, and wind speed, and an estimate of storm size. Image credit: NOAA.

Links
For those of you wanting to know your odds of receiving hurricane force or tropical storm force winds, I recommend the NHC wind probability product.

Wunderground has detailed storm surge maps for the U.S. coast.

The National Hurricane Center's Interactive Storm Surge RIsk Map, which allows one to pick a particular Category hurricane and zoom in, is a good source of storm surge risk information.

Wunderblogger Mike Theiss is in Nassau, documenting the storm's impact on the Bahamas.

Internet radio show on Irene at 4:30pm EDT
Wunderground meteorologists will be discussing Hurricane Irene on a special edition of our Internet radio show, the Daily Downpour, today (Friday) at 4:30pm EDT. Shaun Tanner , Tim Roche, Angela Fritz, and Rob Carver will take your questions. The email address to ask questions is broadcast@wunderground.com.

Jeff Masters

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If she doesn't come west of the current NHC track she definitely will be a hurricane when she reached LI, especially considering the increased forecast speed. In addition, you need to add the forward speed to the maximum sustained winds to accurately assess the wind potential on the right front quadrant.
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Quoting NoVaForecaster:


What appears to have happened is this: The dry air from the CONUS wrapped all the way around the storm. Link The dry air "cut off" the storm from the land interaction that had caused the dry air problem. This caused the outer bands to move away from the center and weaken, causing the core to no longer have it's strength sapped by the bands.



Once that happened it has allowed new hot towers to appear around the COC allowing a new pre-eyewall to begin to develop. This may be too little too late to allow the storm to restrengthen back to Cat 3 status, which is a good thing for North Carolina. However, an increase in winds close to 105/110 MPH is possible, but only a 50/50 chance IMO.



Please give thoughts/ comments if I am wrong.


Very good!
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Quoting Tazmanian:
am going too bead early tonight

good luck too evere one in NC tonight


Night Taz.
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.
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1647. GatorWX
Quoting ConnecticutWXGuy:


it looks highly unlikely to me, considering the trough is already stronger than that model initializes it as


I certainly agree, but I think I give the model some credence overall in what it is showing. None of the other models are showing this at all, and I'm thinking a blend of this model and the consensus makes a lot more sense than the gfdl alone.
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Noticing Irene taking a steeper angle NNE than anticipated.

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Quoting Levi32:


You're 135 miles from the eye. I hope nobody who is in the storm's direct path takes your comment to heart.


Direct path and people on the east side is a different story. If you are on the west side (unless u r in a surge prone area), it really is nothing. As people have been saying for days
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Carolina Hurricanes,

Take a spin up north from you in the morning and check out the damage. Morehead, Okracoke and Hatteras up next.
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Irene has not even knocked on your door yet......
Quoting CarolinaHurricanes87:
Wilmington has been spared and I am safe. Wrightsville may have had worse impacts And I wish them good news tomorow but I'm shocked how weak Irene is here in wilmingon. I think the NE will be in for a big surprise they've evacuated for nothing. Just how I bought $150 of supplies for nothing.

Next time I'll trust my instincts and gut and live with what happens. I feel dumb and misled right now.
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1642. zawxdsk
Quoting ConnecticutWXGuy:


you should never feel dumb for being prepared.... that being said it's been fairly clear that Wilmington wasn't going to feel the brunt for a good day or so now. BTW the storm hasn't even peaked for you yet judging by the radar.

and you shouldn't feel misled since nobody lied and there was no injustice in officials to tell you to be prepared.


Not to mention that it's still low tide and subtracting tidal factors the water is still rising rapidly.
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Quoting Levi32:
Rainfall totals breaching 5-6 inches along portions of the N.C. coast:



More like 6-8 inches south of Wilmington.
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Quoting CarolinaHurricanes87:
Wilmington has been spared and I am safe. Wrightsville may have had worse impacts And I wish them good news tomorow but I'm shocked how weak Irene is here in wilmingon. I think the NE will be in for a big surprise they've evacuated for nothing. Just how I bought $150 of supplies for nothing.

Next time I'll trust my instincts and gut and live with what happens. I feel dumb and misled right now.
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i don't know if this has been posted:

0210 BELHAVEN BEAUFORT NC 3554 7662 POSSIBLE TORNADO NEAR BELHAVEN WITH A TRAILER BLOWN OVER (MHX)
0215 BELHAVEN BEAUFORT NC 3554 7662 STRUCTURAL DAMAGE TO MULTIPLE TRAILERS ALONG BAY STREET
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am going too bead early tonight

good luck too evere one in NC tonight
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Quoting CarolinaHurricanes87:
Wilmington has been spared and I am safe. Wrightsville may have had worse impacts And I wish them good news tomorow but I'm shocked how weak Irene is here in wilmingon. I think the NE will be in for a big surprise they've evacuated for nothing. Just how I bought $150 of supplies for nothing.

Next time I'll trust my instincts and gut and live with what happens. I feel dumb and misled right now.

the eye is barely at the SC/NC boarder...you have hours of this to go hun...not even gonna be by OBX till morning...
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1636. air360
Just wanted to stop in and give y'all a quick update. We are in morehead city. So far we still have power somehow yet winds are picking up drastically and rain is crazy. Many tornados around but none in our town (yet). Gonna get a few hrs sleep before getting up for the eyewall and real action to begin.
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Quoting CarolinaHurricanes87:
I feel dumb [...] right now.

Sigh...
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Quoting beell:


Love and respect back at ya, Flood. I had two large margarita's for dinner so my normally conservative and restrained judgment may have escaped!

: -)




Then you can keep talking ;p
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265
Quoting CarolinaHurricanes87:
Wilmington has been spared and I am safe. Wrightsville may have had worse impacts And I wish them good news tomorow but I'm shocked how weak Irene is here in wilmingon. I think the NE will be in for a big surprise they've evacuated for nothing. Just how I bought $150 of supplies for nothing.

Next time I'll trust my instincts and gut and live with what happens. I feel dumb and misled right now.
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Quoting GTcooliebai:
Ok thanks, I keep picturing in my mind windows being blown out & water inundating the city streets & subways. With the latest wobble do you see the storm maintaining hurricane strength all the way up to there?


If she stays offshore (other than moving over the Outer Banks) all the way to the NY/Long Island area then she could still be a minimal hurricane. Her large size and forward speed, combined with some slight energy infused by the approaching shortwave trough from the NW will allow for slower weakening than would usually be expected for a storm moving this far north.
Member Since: September 24, 2005 Posts: 33 Comments: 9265
1631. Levi32
Quoting beell:


Love and respect back at ya, Flood. I had two large margarita's for dinner so my normally conservative and restrained judgment may have escaped!

: -)




Oh boy. We need to get you to comment on some other stuff as well then, Beell :)
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26701
Quoting CarolinaHurricanes87:
Wilmington has been spared and I am safe. Wrightsville may have had worse impacts And I wish them good news tomorow but I'm shocked how weak Irene is here in wilmingon. I think the NE will be in for a big surprise they've evacuated for nothing. Just how I bought $150 of supplies for nothing.

Next time I'll trust my instincts and gut and live with what happens. I feel dumb and misled right now.


It is NEVER "for nothing". This could very well have been a Cat 4 landing in your lap.

Be THANKFUL it skated by and grateful it didn't land on top of you.

That "misled" BS always ticks me off. In '96 WE were told Bertha was going to Myrtle Beach. Do you know where SHE woundup? On top of US in Jacksonville ~ came ashore at Topsail. I guess I could complain about being misled, too. I'll bet the folks in Myrtle Beach weren't too upset...
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LOL - Yep, blame it one the Ritas! hehehe
Quoting beell:


Love and respect back at ya, Flood. I had two large margarita's for dinner so my normally conservative and restrained judgment may have escaped!

: -)


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1627. Skyepony (Mod)
0545 PM TROPICAL STORM FOLLY BEACH 32.66N 79.92W
08/26/2011 CHARLESTON SC BROADCAST MEDIA

HIGH SURF BREACHED DUNES AND ROCKS ON FOLLY BEACH AND
POURED ONTO ROADWAYS.


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Quoting CarolinaHurricanes87:
Wilmington has been spared and I am safe. Wrightsville may have had worse impacts And I wish them good news tomorow but I'm shocked how weak Irene is here in wilmingon. I think the NE will be in for a big surprise they've evacuated for nothing. Just how I bought $150 of supplies for nothing.

Next time I'll trust my instincts and gut and live with what happens. I feel dumb and misled right now.
The important thing is you are safe. That wasn't guaranteed. You weren't dumb - you were smart and prepared. The supplies will keep. The season isn't over.
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1625. beell
Quoting Floodman:


beell, I love you brother, but I don't think that's going to happen; too much atmosphere moving in unison at all levels for her to make anything more than a tiny aspect change; that's a lot of mass to shift


Love and respect back at ya, Flood. I had two large margarita's for dinner so my normally conservative and restrained judgment may have escaped!

: -)


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Quoting padirescu:
Question for those in the know. Any idea what the height above mean sea level is for the end of the Topsail Island pier? I'm trying to gauge the wave heights on the webcam but obviously I have a limited perspective not knowing this level of detail.


Most of the piers are 20' or better above mean water level.
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im still stickn tomy 90mph obx landfall and nyc at 50-60mph
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1621. Levi32
Quoting 900MB:
interesting:

FLIGHT-LEVEL WINDS RANGING FROM 99 KT TO 108 KT IN THE SOUTHEAST
QUADRANT OF IRENE. HOWEVER...SFMR SURFACE WINDS HAVE BEEN MUCH
LOWER THAN THE STANDARD 90 PERCENT REDUCTION FACTOR TYPICALLY
YIELDS. THIS DISPARITY IS LIKELY DUE TO THE LACK OF SIGNIFICANT
CONVECTION OVER THE SOUTHERN SEMICIRCLE

southern semicircle has been looking better hasn't it?
and.....

NOAA DOPPLER RADAR DATA
FROM WILMINGTON AND MOREHEAD CITY HAVE BEEN INDICATING VIGOROUS
CONVECTION REDEVELOPING NORTH AND EAST OF THE RAGGED EYE...WITH
DOPPLER VELOCITIES OF 90 KT OR GREATER AT ALTITUDE ABOVE 15000
FEET. BASED ON THE RADAR DATA AND THE POSSIBILITY THAT THE STRONGER
FLIGHT-LEVEL WINDS COULD EVENTUALLY WORK INTO NORTHEAST QUADRANT OF
IRENE...THE INITIAL INTENSITY IS BEING HELD AT 85 KT.

"being held" you say. Interesting!


A very wise decision since flight-level winds can work their way to the surface easier at times over land in strong gusts. Irene should be a Cat 2.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26701
Quoting TStormSC:


Thank you Tig and OB! Vinegar bath twice and tomato soup in between (no V8).

I've heard you can't get rid of this if you burn it and bury it, but I don't play for the Falcons, so I'm left with a lot of baths. They were scheduled for the groomers tomorrow. Hope to get my money's worth!

Frying Pan shoals back up to 40 kt winds and 50 mile gusts. Waves still 27'.


vinegar bath and tomato soup...you coulda just used ketchup roflmbo...j/k...put some mouth wash on a wash cloth (dog already tramatized enuf lol) and just rub it on the fur cuz the hair folicles are open when they are wet...
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Quoting TStormSC:


Thank you Tig and OB! Vinegar bath twice and tomato soup in between (no V8).

I've heard you can't get rid of this if you burn it and bury it, but I don't play for the Falcons, so I'm left with a lot of baths. They were scheduled for the groomers tomorrow. Hope to get my money's worth!

Frying Pan shoals back up to 40 kt winds and 50 mile gusts. Waves still 27'.
WooHoo! I hope the groomer works tomorrow...
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Quoting tiggeriffic:


no way i would have been there at high tide, you are brave...heard early this morning the waves were at the 10th step of the crossovers...i dont think ive seen them past 2-3


Not brave, just dumb, LOL. We were careful where we went.
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Quoting CarolinaHurricanes87:
Wilmington has been spared and I am safe. Wrightsville may have had worse impacts And I wish them good news tomorow but I'm shocked how weak Irene is here in wilmingon. I think the NE will be in for a big surprise they've evacuated for nothing. Just how I bought $150 of supplies for nothing.

Next time I'll trust my instincts and gut and live with what happens. I feel dumb and misled right now.


you should never feel dumb for being prepared.... that being said it's been fairly clear that Wilmington wasn't going to feel the brunt for a good day or so now. BTW the storm hasn't even peaked for you yet judging by the radar.

and you shouldn't feel misled since nobody lied and there was no injustice in officials to tell you to be prepared.
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Quoting treehuggingsister:


Oy.
friend of mine has a coworker who lives on deleware bay just s. of Philly. She's not leaving her house. Yikes! He lives in an apt. complex on a river 35 miles West of Philly and they are evacuating the complex tomorrow.
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1615. 900MB
interesting:

FLIGHT-LEVEL WINDS RANGING FROM 99 KT TO 108 KT IN THE SOUTHEAST
QUADRANT OF IRENE. HOWEVER...SFMR SURFACE WINDS HAVE BEEN MUCH
LOWER THAN THE STANDARD 90 PERCENT REDUCTION FACTOR TYPICALLY
YIELDS. THIS DISPARITY IS LIKELY DUE TO THE LACK OF SIGNIFICANT
CONVECTION OVER THE SOUTHERN SEMICIRCLE

southern semicircle has been looking better hasn't it?
and.....

NOAA DOPPLER RADAR DATA
FROM WILMINGTON AND MOREHEAD CITY HAVE BEEN INDICATING VIGOROUS
CONVECTION REDEVELOPING NORTH AND EAST OF THE RAGGED EYE...WITH
DOPPLER VELOCITIES OF 90 KT OR GREATER AT ALTITUDE ABOVE 15000
FEET. BASED ON THE RADAR DATA AND THE POSSIBILITY THAT THE STRONGER
FLIGHT-LEVEL WINDS COULD EVENTUALLY WORK INTO NORTHEAST QUADRANT OF
IRENE...THE INITIAL INTENSITY IS BEING HELD AT 85 KT.

"being held" you say. Interesting!
Member Since: June 11, 2006 Posts: 0 Comments: 684
Tidesonline page contains official tide astronomical tide predictions. This doesn't account for the surge of course.
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Quoting atmosweather:


Yes correct. Still more likely to pass 30-40 miles to the E of the city, but that won't make much of a difference when all is said and done. It will not free the area from 6-10 inches of rain and potentially destructive storm surge.
Ok thanks, I keep picturing in my mind windows being blown out & water inundating the city streets & subways. With the latest wobble do you see the storm maintaining hurricane strength all the way up to there?
Member Since: August 31, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 5628
1612. Levi32
Quoting CarolinaHurricanes87:
Wilmington has been spared and I am safe. Wrightsville may have had worse impacts And I wish them good news tomorow but I'm shocked how weak Irene is here in wilmingon. I think the NE will be in for a big surprise they've evacuated for nothing. Just how I bought $150 of supplies for nothing.

Next time I'll trust my instincts and gut and live with what happens. I feel dumb and misled right now.


You're 135 miles from the eye. I hope nobody who is in the storm's direct path takes your comment to heart.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26701
Thanks Skye --- I always know that you will answer & answer with knowledge. That is about what I thought but wasn't sure...
*sigh* I'm glad that WE are not under the gun with IRENE, but saddened to see that she is gonna wreck havoc on so many on the east coast. Many who are not veterans or accustomed to the serious damage a Cane can do.
Just hope people are paying attention & following the local authorities advice.
Quoting Skyepony:


I'm seeing the difference from normal tide to the upcoming perigee & moon influence to be ~ 1 1/2' in NC & ~2' in the NE.
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Quoting weatherman321:
So I was just looking on Facebook when I saw a friend who lives in NYC post: "A hurricane can't hit NYC because it needs winds to cirrculate and there are too many tall buildings in NY.. So Sunday just gonna be another rainy day." I hope this isn't what most new Yorkers think..
TWC was interviewing a guy on the Jersey shore who has a house on the beach and he's getting prepared by taping his windows and bringing hip plants in. His neighbors have evac'd, but he's going to be allright riding it out.
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1608. Levi32
Rainfall totals breaching 5-6 inches along portions of the N.C. coast:

Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26701
Quoting beell:
This quick-sketch graphic was originally not intended for "publication" so it is a little rough-but maybe showing enough weakness to allow the center to miss landfall in NC. Have to emphasize I am talking about the center. Not the effects of Irene's large circulation. A turn to the NNE has been in the forecast for quite a while so the turn itself is not a surprise. Maybe just a little more of a turn than expected.

Soundings along the east coast (NC and VA)support stronger ridging to the storm's west leaving just enough weakness to squeeze by.
Approaching trough is plenty strong enough to promote the miss also.

click to enlarge



click for loop



beell, I love you brother, but I don't think that's going to happen; too much atmosphere moving in unison at all levels for her to make anything more than a tiny aspect change; that's a lot of mass to shift
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Quoting tiggeriffic:


thanks! i like this list cuz most people have at least one or 2 of them and if not, the dollar tree does lol


Thank you Tig and OB! Vinegar bath twice and tomato soup in between (no V8).

I've heard you can't get rid of this if you burn it and bury it, but I don't play for the Falcons, so I'm left with a lot of baths. They were scheduled for the groomers tomorrow. Hope to get my money's worth!

Frying Pan shoals back up to 40 kt winds and 50 mile gusts. Waves still 27'.
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Quoting GatorWX:
Levi,

What do you think of what the gfdl is hinting in that the current trough wont be strong enough to keep her on her current track all the way up the coast and pull away (trough), allowing her to bend back to the left a bit?


it looks highly unlikely to me, considering the trough is already stronger than that model initializes it as
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Quoting thelmores:


Very unlikely there will be any "significant" strengthening..... or weakening for that matter...... I believe Irene will maintain her current approx strength into Long Island.......
there will be some slight weakening North of North Carolina...she should come in at 75-85mph but will be most dangerous due to her large size/rotation
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I think the real killer from Irene will be river flooding. Much of the mid-Atlantic has already had a very wet August. River levels are well above normal. We may see catastrophic river flooding in the mid Atlantic from Irene like NC had with Floyd.
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

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